Rookie Minicamp is now in the books from Southside Pennsylvania, but what can be reasonably gleaned from only two days of open media scrutiny? Without any competition versus NFL-level talent yet, are there any inklings from these rookie first-looks that the Steelers will benefit from their Draft (and undrafted) selections to make things go right (and outta sight) in 2013?
SPEED IS SPECIAL
But skills kills. Or, something like that…. Markus Wheaton, out of needs and necessity and out of what looks to be a solid skill set (solid route-runner, good hands, great work ethic, etc.) will likely provide the most immediate Rookie impact. It will be interesting to see how he is ultimately positioned in Haley’s Offense: inside at Slot or outside WR opposite Brown (or both), with Emmanuel Sanders remaining at his pre-2013 position as the slot. Regardless, Wheaton looks like he will certainly get worked.
What does appear to be special, is Special Teams. Danny Smith drew a collective Coaching audience from Tomlin, Lake, Butler and LeBeau while operating some rather spirited Special Teams drills. Let’s hope that carries over with guys on the eventual roster, and during the Season. This area is a bruise on Tomlin’s resume, and it needs to be fixed, immediately.
Shamarko “Shark” Thomas is my personal favorite pick of this Draft class. If his hips prove fluid enough (they look a little stiff to me) to turn into coverage of slippery slots and torturous Tight Ends, this is a playmaker. Shamarko is a punisher in pads, Pittsburgh style. Really looking forward to Coach Lake‘s development of this kid; physically, he is an imposing dude. And, can we get some love for the job Carnell has done with the Secondary in Pittsburgh? Outstanding job, Coach!
DOES SIZE MATTER?
“Small” has been a recurring adjective thus far: Jarvis Jones‘ build is markedly contrastive to that of a LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds, or even the departed James Harrision for that matter. Even Le’Veon Bell‘s 230 but could play
at 244-lb. frame passes the eye test as “smaller than you’d think”, but reports are he’s showing nimble feet and sure hands. Wheaton is also “small”, but we knew that. Landry Jones apparently isn’t as Texas-sized as his namesake, either, but if he doesn’t perform any better than his first-look with a Steelers helmet on, a sizable amount of press will continue surrounding this Draft pick.
We’re not talking about Landry Jones as a project to replace Big Ben here, regardless of Charlie Batch’s assertions to that effect. The most loved pick to opine about, Jones has not looked sharp at all. I don’t care about learning new terminology or having different protection schemes – any drafted QB should be able to hit open receivers in a padless practice; I would expect even the backup QB out of North Allegheny to throw “relative strikes” in three-quarter speed drills. Ones that can’t, shouldn’t be drafted, and sure as shucks shouldn’t be a 4th Rounder. Also, if I hear one more time the clearly codified and rehearsed media response from Tomlin and Fichtner (or anyone else) that Landry is “a really sharp guy to add to the classroom“? I’m interested in what he adds on the field, not in a room.
LOVE ME LATELY
Mike Golic, Jr. has gotten the most props within our crop of undrafted free agents; while also referred to as “small” he is known as a big competitor (having an NFL Dad would motivate me, too), which could potentially help up front where, at least at this time of writing, the Steelers are woefully thin on the depth chart.
Yup, a slow media day for sure, but hey, just be glad I didn’t delve humorously into Opening Game opening act Darius Rucker.